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BC Partners strikes deal for United Group to take stake in Forthnet

Private equity group BC Partners has struck an agreement with Greek pay TV outfit Forthnet’s creditor banks that will see BC-owned United Group take a one third stake in the company.

The deal will see United Group take on about 50% of Forthnet’s convertible bonds and loan receivables along with shares in the company, initially, with the remaining convertible bonds and additional shares to be acquired later. Forthnet’s convertible bonds and loan receivables amount to €52 million and €281 million respectively.

United Group said that following the transaction it would “assess all of the available alternatives for the recapitalization and substantial deleveraging of the company through a comprehensive debt to equity conversion and the injection of new capital” which would “eliminate the entire debt burden of the Company and provide to it significant additional capital resources that will ensure its financial stability, further profitable growth and ability to implement the Purchaser’s strategic plan for the Company.”

Nikos Stathopoulis

The cross-border nature of the acquisition means that it will be subject to European competition authorisation.

According to the Greek Kathimerini newspaper, BC Partners is likely to follow up the acquisition of control of Forthnet by placing a bid for Wind Hellas in order to establish a substantial presence in the Greek broadband, telecom and pay TV market.

BC Partners’ move into the Greek market follows a spate of acquisitions in the south-eastern Europe region, beginning with United Group itself and including Vivacom in Bulgaria and Tele2 Croatia.

BC Partners partner and United Group president Nikos Stathopoulis said that the acquisition “provides us with a strong foothold to expand into the growing and evolving Greek market, which we see as a strategic location for United Group”.